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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Aug. 28, 2001 – The Police Department Traffic Bureau is investigating a Saturday night automobile accident that claimed what an officer said was the seventh pedestrian fatality on St. Thomas this year — and the fourth within a month.
Police Chief Jose Garcia said Monday that Lester Hart, 38, was struck while standing on the Veterans Drive median near the Watlington Post Office Annex in Frenchtown.
"He was standing across the street from the post office in the middle of the four-lane highway when he was struck around 10 p.m. Saturday," Garcia said. He said no charges had been filed pending the completion of the investigation.
Garcia said Hart was pronounced dead at Roy L. Schneider Hospital from injuries to the head, chest and abdomen. The chief identified the driver of the vehicle that struck Hart as Jimmy Baulai, 23, of Contant.
One week earlier, a 66-year-old man was killed while crossing the road in Smith Bay. An unidentified man has been arrested and charged with vehicular homicide in that death.
On Aug. 3 Joel "Joey" Benjamin was charged with negligent homicide in the deaths of Ilma Dyer, 33, and Wilshana Stuart, 10, who were struck and killed Aug. 1 while walking on the side of the road in Bovoni.
According to Sgt. Annette Raimer, police information officer, Hart's death is the seventh pedestrian fatality this year on St. Thomas. Raimer said speeding was a big factor in the deaths, adding that police "need more vehicles" to be out patrolling the streets, checking for licenses and creating a presence.
She said police officials met with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull last week to plead their case for an increased budget for more officers and vehicles. The governor's proposed Police Department budget for Fiscal Year 2002 is $34.4 million, including about $5 million in federal funds. Raimer said the department could use $50 million.
Anyone with information about Saturday night's accident is asked to call traffic investigators at 774-2211 or the 911 emergency number.

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